Coalitions: Smash the Right with Lots of People

The Complete Guide to Fighting the Right

by LV

For the past 30 years people who track the far right have been warning that the right has both a unified vision and a multipronged strategy to win power. Sadly, their warning flares did not lead to an unified and well-resourced opposition. Now six out of nine supreme court justices belong to the rightwing Federalist Society, three appointed by Trump who emboldened alt-right, Christian right, and fascist formations attacking pride. From fascist “straight pride” marches, white supremacists in Charlottesville chanting, “Jews will not replace us,” and a confederate flag waving invasion of the senate in an attempted coup, the right wing is mobilizing for a christian authoritarian society. They increasingly use eliminationist language, posing that skin color, gender, sexuality, language and class should determine whether one is even allowed to exist. Recognizing the full hydra of the right, we must build pathways to coalitions that build power and turn back the fascists.

When the respect for the humanity of trans kids is an existential battle, where “saying gay” in the classroom is a crime, why should queers join in the fight for abortion rights, an issue that predominantly, though of course not entirely, impacts straight cis women?

What are we fighting FOR?

Bodily and sexual sovereignty are integral to liberation and human rights.

Bodily and sexual autonomy, the right to be ourselves, to choose the pleasure that comes with having a body, the right to our identities and to name our desires, are core to queer and trans liberation. These basic human rights are deeply interwoven in reproductive justice, a framework developed by black feminist activists led by Loretta Ross and SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective that firmly placed reproductive health access in a social justice framework.

If, when, and how to get pregnant and have babies, including the right to healthy pregnancies, the ability to make families and the demand for basic decent conditions for raising children expresses the wide scope of Reproductive Justice. Nearly 50% of women seeking abortion already have one kid. It is not enough to be able to choose to have children, a choice denied to Black and Indigenous women who have a long history of coerced and constrained choices and barriers from the host of structural inequality issues from low wage jobs and the carceral state. Making abortion illegal makes women and people who can get pregnant less than fully human.

These are issues that cross-cut queers and cis gendered straight folks, trans men and non-binary folks. In other words, whether you are a cis straight woman who does not want to be pregnant, or a gender-queer AMAB (assigned male at birth) person who wants to have a child and parent, the right to full court reproductive health care, including abortion on demand, are essential to our freedom and lives. Our interwoven interests should be all the more reasons to get into the streets together, and instead of splintering, to sew our interests together in larger coalitions.

What Are We Fighting Against: White Supremacy and Fascist Control of Reproduction

Eliminationism is the far right genocidal call that has gone from 4Chan/8Chan chatroom mutterings to the mouths of sitting Q-anon-affiliated congresspeople and Fox News broadcasters. The Buffalo murderer who assassinated ten Black people in a grocery store posted about “replacement theory” as the motivation for his hate. Hate crimes are on the rise against many ethnic groups. Stop AAPI Hate tracked nearly 11,000 hate incidents against Asian Americans from March 2020 to December 2021, disproportionately targeting girls and women. The intersection of white supremacy, anti-immigrant hate, misogyny and dehumanization of sex-workers was gut-wrenchingly apparent in the 2021 killing spree by a young white christian man who claimed he was fighting “sex addiction” when he shot up three spa and massage businesses in Atlanta, killing eight people, six of whom were women.

For years, the right has fanned the white supremacist anxiety of white people becoming a minority in the US as the US Census bureau anticipates that the population will be predominantly non-white by 2050. We have been here before. This idea, that People of Color and Jews are actively displacing white people as the majority and that this demographic shift is a strategy for power has been a constant paranoia voiced by Tucker Carlson and others at Fox News, fueling the violent flames of racist and antisemitic violence.

The long-established answer for authoritarians worried about “replacement” is forcing white women to have more babies. How to do that? Criminalize abortion. Curtailing birth control will surely come next. Forced pregnancy and forced birth are tools of authoritarians, straight out of the Nazi playbook. In 1936 the Nazis established the Reich Central Office for the Combating of Homosexuality and Abortion. “Kinder, Küche, Kirche” — the 3 K’s Children, Kitchen, Church, is the core Nazi propaganda phrase that described the role of Christian German women in the third reich and is echoed today by authoritarians from Hungary to D.C.

Right wing Christians weren’t that involved in abortion politics until the 70’s and 80’s. Evangelical white supremacists were working in the 60’s and 70’s to turn back civil rights and re-segregate southern schools. Their campaigns for school busing were losing. Jerry Falwell, an evangelical leader and founder of the “moral majority,” was an anti-busing proponent of re-segregation. He discovered that his railings against queer people and abortion got more traction and media attention than his rants against school busing, and the “culture wars” were born. Other right-wing Evangelicals followed suit, and pivoted to targeting abortion and queer (and more recently trans) sexuality and identity.

Photo of demonstrators at reproductive rights rally

BACORR’s Legacy: Anti-Fascism Is Intersectional

BACORR, the Bay Area Coalition for Our Reproductive Rights, grew in the late 1980s out of a small group of left organizations called the Clinic Defense Coalition, which formed to counter antiabortion picketers who were harassing a feminist clinic in Oakland. 

In 1986 Operation Rescue, the Evangelical, white male supremacist group, began to blockade abortion clinics. Starting with onslaughts of clinics in Philadelphia and along the east coast, Operation Rescue would send hit group to invade, assault, occupy, trash, and intimidate workers and clients and then bring in a wave of people to sit on the steps in front of the door of the clinic to sing and pray and attempt to sell themselves as non-violent and part of a civil rights tradition. Not surprisingly, the cops didn’t stop them. In many cities the cops did their bidding by contacting the clinics and asking them to shut down for the day. When it came time to move the protestors away from the clinic doors the cops would carefully place limp protestors in wheelchairs or gurneys, never bashing heads and breaking ribs as they do with black and brown bodies and left protests.

When news reached Bay Area radicals that OR planned clinic attacks in the Bay Area and was organizing a California wing, BACORR mobilized to keep clinics open and expose the right.

BACORR joined with ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, Roots Against War, and other militant queer-led and BIPOC-led militant groups to build a mass movement. BACORR repeatedly and without fail called on the news media to cover the attacks on clinics and doctors and call it by its name, a terrorist campaign aimed at clinics.

By strategic info gathering, BACORR would learn of a planned attack and mobilize people to all the clinics that were open that day. BACORR developed and trained people in clinic self-defense methods to fight off the anti’s who would rush the clinic door and literally fight us. We would defend the space and hold the space around clinic doors. We would intercept clients and create corridors with our bodies to accompany clients through the antiabortion harassers. It was so powerfully inspiring both to the people who joined in defense and became active in the movement, and for the women and people wanting to enter the clinic despite the intense in your face opposition.

BACORR took the confrontation to OR wherever they were. That meant confronting churches that housed or hosted them and staging big outrageous demonstrations outside of their prayer meetings. We used every opportunity to challenge their narrative and also contrast our big fun, queer, expansive, big tent alternative to their hateful rhetoric and bullying tactics. BACORR people were wildly creative and made props and signs and banners and fabulousness to many protests

History Lessons, or what I learned while fighting the right:

  • Be clear about the choice at this moment, what is the world that the right is fighting for and what is the world that we are fighting for, We stand for Liberation, Bodily sovereignty, for our Humanity, for everyone’s access to health and care.  Don’t just talk about the rotten thing the anti’s/fascists are doing. Communicate about our shared values of humanity and human rights and health access for all.
  • Never forget, they are clowns. They may be scary because many of them are strapped and clearly some are willing to shoot. But we have the will of the people on our site. Piercing wit, style, and fiery sharp satire can deflate them.
  • Coalitions are worth the headache. Ok, we won’t be pollyana, coalitions are hard, it’s so much easier to work with people who agree with everything you say. That’s your affinity group. But we need to be able to turn thousands and thousands of people into the streets and to do that we need organizations and to find common points of unity.  
  • Be Brave & Creative – Look for opportunities that invite regular people to step up and get involved and to be courageous. We are saving lives and building a transformative movement at the same time. Our world is desperate for movements that are based in deep care, in radical support for each other in the self reliance in caring for each other exposes the way capitalist medical systems fail to serve all of us.

Get Ready to Rise for Repro Justice

Not Your Parents’ Abortion Crisis

by Kate

After the leaked supreme kkkourt tentative ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, I went to a demonstration in Seattle, where I live. On the way home, I sat on the train next to several women a little older than me, all of whom had had personal experiences with underground abortion in the pre-Roe era.

“We’re going back to the era of coat hangers and knitting needles,” one of them lamented. The others shook their heads in agreement.

“Well, not exactly,” I said.

The universe of abortion access is massively different from 1972, and even from the mid-1990s, when I worked on the ACCESS Women’s Health Hotline (now ACCESS Reproductive Justice, accessrj.org). In 1998, medical abortion (abortion pills) was available in California only at a few clinics; the most common form at that time was a chemotherapy drug called methotrexate in combination with an ulcer medication called misoprostol. In 2000, RU486, or mifepristone, was approved by the FDA for use in abortions. Also combined with misoprostol, mifepristone is safer than methotrexate, which is a carcinogen (ah, those cancer-causing cancer treatments …). It was initially approved for use only until seven weeks after the first day of the person’s last menstrual period (in medical lingo, “weeks LMP”).

Medication abortions are sometimes termed “medical” as opposed to “surgical” methods. The term surgical is misleading, since most of the procedures performed at abortion clinics use vacuum aspiration (suction). Effective through about twelve weeks LMP, aspiration procedures take about fifteen minutes, require only local anesthetic and are only a little more invasive than a pap smear or pelvic ultrasound. The procedures used to end second trimester pregnancies (13-24 weeks LMP, more or less) require more anesthetic and are a bit more involved. Only about ten percent of abortions in the u.s. currently are performed in the second trimester.

In 2001, a year after mifepristone was authorized, 5% of abortions were medication abortions. The numbers have climbed steadily since. As of 2022, with COVID protocols in place allowing pills to be prescribed by telehealth, 54% of the roughly 700,000 abortions received by pregnant people in the United States were medication abortions. The FDA announced at the end of 2021 that it will allow the pills to be prescribed by telehealth indefinitely, as it’s been shown to be safe.

The majority of medical abortions involve a dose of mifepristone followed one to two days later by a dose of misoprostol. When taken correctly, the two-drug combination successfully terminates a pregnancy in 95-98% of cases without complications. It is safe and effective to end pregnancies up to about ten or eleven weeks LMP. Misoprostol can also be taken by itself if mifepristone is not available and is about 85% effective. In some countries, including parts of Mexico, misoprostol is available over-the-counter. Mexican feminists have been taking significant risks to help get abortion pills over the border since last September, when Texas passed a law making abortion almost unavailable in the state.

Many organizations around the world have developed innovative approaches to ensuring that u.s. residents facing unwanted pregnancies have access to abortion pills. Among them are Aid Access (formerly Women on Web), which offers telehealth consultations and pills by mail for $110-$150. Their website says they “try to find a solution” for people who can’t afford that amount. Contact them at aidaccess.org.

The Plan C Project (plancpills.org) is a one-stop shop for information about every aspect of abortion pills, including how they work, where to get them, and resources for medical, legal and financial support. Aid Access and some other groups are now offering “advance provision” pills, that is, you can order them when you are not pregnant in case you or someone in your close circle becomes pregnant and needs them.

Situations where the pregnant person or their friends and family locate and order or buy pills without consulting a practitioner are referred to “in the biz” as “self-managed abortions.” Most are safe.

There are other methods for managing one’s abortion, including menstrual extraction or “manual vacuum aspiration” (MVA), which small self-help groups have been doing and teaching since the 1960s. MVA has to be learned from someone with experience and you can’t do it on yourself. Activists have also begun exploring possibilities for making pills and some sites even suggest “grow your own abortion,” meaning seeds that turn into herbs that have been used sometimes for centuries to interrupt pregnancies. These methods might not be so safe or effective. Herbalists I trusted in the eighties and nineties studied herbal abortion options and concluded they were too risky.

The other game-changer has been the approval of Plan B or “morning after pill” for over-the-counter use. Plan B (levonorgestrel) prevents pregnancy 87% of the time if taken within three days after unprotected sex, and is even more effective if taken sooner. The common brands cost $40-50 if you buy them in the pharmacy, but it can be ordered online for about $25 including shipping. Generics are much cheaper but for those you need a prescription, which you can get from Planned Parenthood or another clinic or via telehealth from many practitioners. Under the Affordable Care Act, most insurance (including Medicaid) should cover it. If you know someone who can get pregnant, even if they think it’s unlikely, a good thing to do is make sure they have some form of Plan B in their medicine cabinet at all times.

photo of abortion ban protest

The widespread availability of pills means that the coathanger/knitting needle scenarios envisioned by people who lived through the pre-1972 era are less likely. However, there are lots of barriers to accessing pills including lack of: access to the internet, an address where pills can be shipped, money to pay for them, a phone to use for a consultation, a private place to make the call, and information about what is available and how to find it. All of these obstacles are most severe for people with the fewest resources: teenagers, poor people, BIPOC, immigrants, trans people, people in small towns, red states and rural communities. People who were subjected to abstinence-only sex education, which is a lot more than you might think (a young woman in my creative writing master’s program at hippie Goddard College said that’s all she got). And because it needs to be stated, the large majority of people in all those disproportionately impacted groups will be women. And most of those offering solutions and helping people to protect their bodily autonomy, will be women.

Pretty much every state has an abortion fund, many have more than one, which help people who can’t afford to pay out of pocket and don’t have insurance that covers abortion (Medicaid covers abortion costs in only sixteen states, and under the 1977 Hyde Amendment, no federal funds can be used for it, meaning that people who live in DC cannot get any public funding for abortions). Some even cover transportation and/or housing, or connect people with groups that provide practical support, such as ACCESS RJ, which serves northern and central California (accessrj.org). However, as of now, most funds only work with clinics, so won’t help people who are managing their own abortions or getting pills through one of the online organizations like Aid Access. Right now we know of only one fund, JustThePill.com, which funds low-barrier medication abortion.

Information Is Survival

One of the biggest problems going forward is likely to be a proliferation of questionable online sources of pills. The sites and groups at PlanCPills.org are all vetted, safe and ethical, and that presumably will remain true, but many people will end up getting pills from unofficial sources. In rural areas, areas with unreliable internet, many people will get their pills from friends or people who might be misled about what they’re giving out or have nefarious intent. Just as people are buying fentanyl labeled as Percocet, unethical people will doubtless be peddling “abortion pills” containing any number of things that might or might not be misoprostol or mifepristone. Dosages may vary.

Even years ago, Women on Waves, the parent group of Aid Access, posted a warning about fake online sites, some of which took money and never delivered anything, and warned potential consumers to check the “Rogue Pharmacy Checker” at www.pharmacychecker.com. People buying pills in other countries could end up at a nonreputable pharmacy, especially if they are not fluent in the language. Just as they did during the pre-Roe era, people will underestimate the number of weeks since their last period in the hopes of obtaining services, not realizing that it might result in not getting what they need.

The group Partners for Reproductive Justice offers clear information about how to tell if what you are getting is actually the correct medication, at https://www.ipas.org/our-work/abortion-self-care/abortion-with-pills/how-to-buy-abortion-pills-that-are-safe-and-effective/.

One of the things I learned during my time on the ACCESS hotline is how important accurate information is when it comes to accessing pregnancy care and how prevalent misinformation is. Many of the people who called the hotline thought California required people under eighteen to obtain parental consent for an abortion (it doesn’t). Almost no one knew about emergency Medi-Cal, which offers a streamlined process for someone who is pregnant to get services with presumed eligibility, or that teenagers can qualify based only on their own income.

Because the window for obtaining abortion care is so short, it can be almost too late by the time someone realizes they need services. Ten weeks LMP could mean eight weeks since you had unprotected sex. Many many people don’t keep close track of their cycles or don’t have regular cycles or haven’t been bleeding long enough to know what their cycle is or have already stopped bleeding monthly. Sure, there are menstruation tracker apps, but they’re more widely used by certain demographics than others. And some people are suggesting that using them might become dangerous in states where anti-abortion legislators are actively trying to pursue women they suspect of trying to obtain abortions.

And, there’s a massive and well-organized disinformation campaign designed to prevent people from accessing abortion, and part of why it works is because the time frames are so short. A lot of these campaigns are state-funded as “abstinence-only education.”

The Fake Clinic Industry

The first “crisis pregnancy center” (CPC) was established in 1967 in Hawaii – nearly three years before the state became the first in the country to eliminate criminal penalties for abortion. During the reagan and g.h.w. bush years – the 1980s and early 1990s – these fake abortion clinics exploded, often setting up next door to or down the street from actual abortion providers. Their goal is to confuse and scare people, mostly women (because they are not interested in providing health care to trans people) into carrying pregnancies to term; some encourage adoption (into christian families), some offer used furniture and baby clothes. Most are staffed by volunteers who have little or no medical training, although some have encouraged their volunteers to get certified as phlebotomists (though they don’t do blood draws) or ultrasound technicians.

Early on, these facilities were heavy on gory movies with bloody fetuses and talking tadpole embryos. They eventually discovered that it was more effective to talk about “choices” and tell people that they need an ultrasound to determine how far along they are so they could know what their “options” are. They believe, possibly correctly, though it hasn’t been scientifically verified, that many people will decide to continue a pregnancy after they hear what they are told is the heartbeat (it isn’t, apparently, it’s an amplified artificial sound produced by an electrical signal).

Fake clinics lure people by offering free pregnancy tests, which they might need to access abortion or other services. Medi-Cal used to (I think it no longer does) require a positive pregnancy test to sign up for emergency services. The tests that the CPCs offered did not qualify; they were basically home tests. Medi-Cal demanded a lab test from a clinic such as Planned Parenthood, most of which, unlike the CPCs, required an appointment. By the time the client found that out and made it to an actual clinic, they were often past the deadline for a first-trimester procedure, which might be the only ones available within fifty miles or more of where they lived.

In the internet age, the fake clinic industry has become extremely sophisticated. They have pumped lots of resources into search engine optimization and are often the first sites that come up in a search. I have ended up on fake clinic sites when looking for information and taken several minutes to realize it. Many no longer use the name “Crisis Pregnancy Center,” which has become somewhat known, but now call themselves “Pregnancy Resource Centers” (PRC) or “Pregnancy Information Centers.” Most of them don’t say anywhere on their site that they are anti-abortion. Some have the word “ministry” somewhere but many don’t. They have names like “Hope Clinic” or “Confidence Pregnancy Center” or “Choices Pregnancy Care Center.” When you click on the site, you will usually see something like “When considering the abortion option, it is important to investigate this decision from several angles. Come in to talk with us to educate yourself about the abortion procedure. We can confirm your viable, uterine pregnancy, required to proceed with your abortion.”

photo of protestor

One of the key indicators is that they’ll have on their main website detailed descriptions of every type of abortion procedure. It’s not exactly inaccurate but it always emphasizes the grossest and scariest aspects and plays up possible risks. The medical information is often outdated; for instance, “Choices Pregnancy Care Center” in Georgia talks about methotrexate, which is seldom used since mifepristone became available. Since methotrexate is both a cancer treatment and a carcinogen, this enables them to promote the long-debunked idea of a link between abortion and cancer.

Depending where they are registered or located, they may have something at the bottom of their site stating that they don’t provide pregnancy medical care or abortion. Or they may not.

According to the great website exposefakeclinics.com, there are over 3000 fake clinics, some of which operate as mobile clinics, in the country right now, compared to about 800 abortion providers, some of which will be gone as soon as the Dobbs decision is announced (which could have happened by the time you read this). And while abortion clinics cannot receive any federal funding, many of these fake clinics do, through grants for “abstinence-only education” (thank you, Bill Clinton!). Expose Fake Clinics estimates that in Texas alone, $170 million has gone to fake clinics since 2016. A 2021 report by Equity Forward found that many states were diverting federal money intended for food stamps (TANF) to fake clinics.

It’s Up to Us – Get Involved

This is, needless to say, not a time to mourn. There’s so much to do, from donating to or volunteering at abortion funds and practical support networks like ACCESS, to starting support networks in places that don’t have them, to getting out in the streets, which might have the most lasting impact. This is definitely not a time for any binary thinking about mutual aid versus in-your-face action. We need to do them all and they’re all of a piece.

In addition to the websites and groups mentioned in the article, here are a few others to support and check out:

The Liberate Abortion Campaign, a multi-tactical coalition of more than 150 organizations agitating and educating to expand abortion access across the United States. LiberateAbortion.org

Abortion Access Front, a coven of hilarious badass feminists who use humor and pop culture to expose the haters fighting against reproductive rights. Sunday, July 17 is a full day livestreamed training on how to protect abortion access. AbortionAF.org

The Repro Legal Defense Fund covers bail and funds strong defenses for people who are investigated, arrested, or prosecuted for self-managed abortion. reprolegaldefensefund.org/

National Network of Abortion Funds, abortionfunds.org

Sistersong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective. https://www.sistersong.net/reproductive-justice

Sovereign Womb Collective, sovereignwomb.wixsite.com/mysite/sovereign-abortion

COME OUT COME OUT COME OUT

The day of the ruling, regardless of what it is:
Gather at 5 pm
San Francisco Federal Courthouse
450 Golden Gate

Not in the Bay Area? Go to bansoffourbodies.org or Text ACCESS to 22422 to find out about actions wherever you are.

Reproductive Justice is Disability Justice

Statement by Sins Invalid

La justicia reproductiva es justicia de discapacidad

En mayo de 2022, el pueblo de los Estados Unidos se enteró de que la Corte Suprema  planeaba anular Roe v. Wade, un fallo de 1973 que hace que el acceso al aborto sea seguro y legal.

Durante años hemos visto cómo estado tras estado aprueba leyes cada vez más restrictivas sobre el aborto. Sins Invalid sabe que si se anula Roe v. Wade, las personas discapacitadas racializadas y las personas discapacitadas queer y trans estaremos entre las poblaciones más perjudicadas por la falta de acceso al aborto y atención médica reproductiva.

El impacto aislador del capacitismo significa que las personas discapacitadas ya tenemos menos probabilidades de encontrar opciones seguras para interrumpir embarazos. Este contexto, junto con la lucha de las personas discapacitadas para obtener educación sexual y atención médica integral, significa que la revocación de Roe v. Wade, como las prohibiciones del aborto que la precedieron, será catastrófica para las personas discapacitadas.         

Por un lado, el miedo a la discapacidad se ha utilizado como una herramienta para manipular las elecciones reproductivas de las personas, a veces con el resultado que las personas opten por abortos selectivos para evitar la discapacidad, lo que de hecho es eugenesia. Simultáneamente, las personas discapacitadas nos hemos visto obligadas a interrumpir embarazos bajo el pretexto de que no podemos ser buenes adres porque somos discapacitades.

El control violento y la opresión a los cuerpos de las personas por parte de los Estados Unidos no comenzaron cuando la Corte Suprema empezó a socavar a Roe v. Wade. Los ataques a la autonomía corporal iniciaron mucho antes que este momento a través de la conquista y colonización de las tierras y prácticas indígenas, a través de la deshumanización y cosificación de la esclavitud y la tortura de la gente negra.

Hemos visto esto a través de la imposición a los pueblos indígenas de internados/escuelas de resocialización. Hemos sido testigues de programas de eugenesia patrocinados por el gobierno en 32 estados y en Puerto Rico. La esterilización forzada de personas encarceladas, discapacitadas e inmigrantes son violaciones directas a los derechos humanos.

Hemos visto violencia estatal y opresión en el socavamiento constante de las empresas de personas negras y la epidemia de violencia contra las mujeres trans negras y las mujeres trans racializadas. Los intentos históricos de controlar los cuerpos que el gobierno considera “desviados” muestran que la autonomía corporal y la justicia reproductiva son cuestiones de derechos humanos.

Los intentos de prohibir el aborto conducen inevitablemente a conversaciones no consensuadas sobre los cuerpos de las mujeres, las personas intersexuales, trans y no binarias. En estas discusiones, debemos recordar cómo la justicia de discapacidad valora un análisis interseccional que nos obliga a considerar las complejidades de la justicia reproductiva en el contexto del capacitismo.

Los abortos ocurrirán sin importar si son legales o no, pero estas leyes son un acto de violencia. Elegir si convertirse en adre y cuándo hacerlo, es un principio básico de la justicia reproductiva.

Las personas pobres y de clase trabajadora no podrán negociar las barreras que impone la legislación y, en cambio, se verán obligadas a realizar prácticas inseguras para interrumpir sus embarazos. Las personas embarazadas ya han sido criminalizadas y encarceladas por abortos espontáneos o por haber sido percibidas como interruptoras de sus embarazos, y estas leyes solo encarcelarán a poblaciones más vulnerables.          

Estas leyes y fallos perjudican a las comunidades racializadas, ya que las personas negras y de otras razas marginadas siempre se ven afectadas de manera desproporcionada por la criminalización. Este ataque a Roe v. Wade existe para llenar las cárceles y prisiones de Estados Unidos con mano de obra no remunerada, separar a las familias a través del encarcelamiento y alimentar la injusta maquinaria del sistema estatal de crianza temporal.

Les jueces pueden tratar de controlar nuestros cuerpos, pero las mujeres, las personas no binarias, las personas trans y las personas con discapacidad no somos objetos para ser contenidos o manipulados. Somos seres humanos que merecemos cuidado y opciones, y no permitiremos que se nos niegue nuestra autonomía.

Sins Invalid apoya plenamente a cada individuo para que tome las decisiones reproductivas que mejor se adapten a su contexto y necesidades. El acceso a la información, la atención médica de calidad y la autonomía en la toma de decisiones son esenciales para el bienestar de todes. Todes merecen autonomía y el derecho a hace la mejor elección para sí misme y sus futuros. La justicia reproductiva es justicia de discapacidad.

English translation:

Reproductive Justice is Disability Justice

By Sins Invalid

In May 2022, the people of the United States learned that the Supreme Court planned to overturn Roe v. Wade, a 1973 ruling that makes abortion access safe and legal.

For years we’ve watched state after state pass increasingly restrictive legislation on abortion. Sins Invalid knows that if Roe v. Wade is overturned, disabled people of color and queer and trans disabled people will be among the populations most harmed by lack of abortion access and reproductive healthcare.

Ableism’s isolating impact means disabled people are already less likely to find safe options to terminate pregnancies. This context, along with the struggle of disabled people to obtain comprehensive sex education and healthcare, means that the overturning of Roe v. Wade, like the abortion bans that came before it, will be catastrophic for disabled folks.

On one hand, the fear of disability has been used as a tool to manipulate people’s reproductive choices, sometimes causing people to opt for selective abortions to avoid disability, which is in fact eugenics. Simultaneously, disabled people have been forced to terminate pregnancies under the pretense that we cannot be good parents because we are disabled.            

The United States’ violent control and oppression of people’s bodies did not begin with the supreme court’s targeting of Roe v. Wade. Attacks on bodily autonomy long predate this moment through conquest and colonization of Indigenous lands and practices, through the dehumanization of chattel slavery, and through the torture of Black people.

We have seen this through the infliction of boarding/retraining schools on Indigenous people. We have witnessed state-sponsored eugenics programs in 32 states and Puerto Rico. The forced sterilization of incarcerated people, disabled people, and immigrants are direct violations of human rights.     

We have seen state violence and oppression in the constant undermining of Black enterprises and the epidemic of violence against Black trans women and trans women of color. Historical attempts to control bodies the government sees as “deviant” show that bodily autonomy and reproductive justice are human rights issues.

Attempts to ban abortion inevitably lead to non-consensual conversations about women, intersex, trans, and non-binary people’s bodies. In these discussions, we must remember how disability justice values an intersectional analysis which requires us to consider the complexities of reproductive justice in the context of ableism.

Abortions will occur regardless of whether they are legal or not, but these laws are an act of violence. Choosing whether and when to become a parent is a basic principle of reproductive justice.

Poor and working-class people will be unable to negotiate around the legislation and instead will be forced into unsafe practices to terminate their pregnancies. Pregnant people have already been criminalized and imprisoned for miscarriage or having been perceived to terminate their pregnancies, and these laws will only incarcerate more vulnerable populations.

These laws and rulings harm communities of color, as Black and brown people are always disproportionately impacted by criminalization. This attack on Roe v. Wade exists to fill America’s jails and prisons with unpaid labor, separate families through incarceration, and feed the unjust foster care machine.  

The courts may try to control our bodies, but women, non-binary, trans, and disabled people are not objects to be contained or manipulated. We are human beings that deserve care and choices, and we will not allow our autonomy to be denied.

Sins Invalid fully supports each individual making the reproductive choices that best suit their context and needs. Access to information, quality healthcare, and autonomy in decision making are essential for the well-being of all. Everybody deserves autonomy and the right to make the best choice for themselves and their futures. Reproductive justice is disability justice.

WITCHELM Drops Condoms, Abortion Pills on Texas

photo illustration

In the wee hours of September 11, 2021, two planes appeared out of nowhere in the skies above El Paso and Houston, Texas. As terrified spectators fled and shrieked, two mushroom clouds drifted toward the ground. Upon impact, the parachutes burst open, revealing millions of condoms and doses of Plan B (emergency contraception) and the mifepristone-misoprostol combination popularly known as RU486.

A tornado-like vortex created by the departing vessels blew the bounty far and wide, and shrieks of fear turned to whoops of joy as women stuffed the anti-pregnancy charms into bras, purses and pockets.

Also plucked from the winds (but miraculously not finding their way into any bodies of water) were copies of a leaflet proclaiming:

Greetings Siblings:

We, the Women’s Intergallactic Troglodyte Conspiracy to Harbor Extraterrestrial Little Monsters (WITCHELM) have heard your cries for freedom and come bearing gifts. May your lives be joyful and all your children be chosen, and may the revolution come speedily in our day.

Live Long and Prosper.

P.S. Donations may be sent to P.O. Box 666666, Planet XX, Andromeda Galaxy VIVIVI

Free our Sister, Free Ourselves, Free Abortion on Demand

(1969-1970 chant outside NYC Women’s House of Detention)

It’s not just texas – But it IS texas

by Deeg

“Taken together, the Act is a breathtaking act of defiance—of the Constitution, of this Court’s precedents, and of the rights of women seeking abortions throughout Texas…” Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent to the supreme KKKourt refusal to grant an injunction in Whole Woman’s Health et al v. Austin Reeve Jackson, Judge, et al.

In July Whole Woman’s Health, Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, sued to block texas’ new law SB 8, which outlawed abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy, but left enforcement to a bounty hunter scheme.  A preliminary injunction was scheduled to be heard in federal district court on Monday, August 30. But on August 27, a panel of the Fifth Circuit kkkourt of appeals stopped the proceedings and dismissed the case, while also refusing a request to expedite an appeal of that decision. This forced the clinics to go to the supreme kkkourt, who refused to hear the challenge or block implementation of the law. On September 1, more than 85% of abortions sought in texas became illegal.

The latest attempt to outsmart 50 years of law starting with Roe v Wade, the texas abortion ban, is enforced by allowing individuals to sue an abortion provider, or anyone who assists a person seeking abortion (but not the pregnant person themselves). If successful the plaintiff will be awarded their costs plus a “bounty” of at least $10,000. A person who is sued, even if they successfully defend against the case, cannot seek reimbursement for their costs. Multiple people can sue the same people over the same abortion, potentially bankrupting clinics, referral services, or possibly even taxi drivers. It is not clear whether out of state abortion networks can be sued under this law. uber and lyft have said that they will defend any of their drivers who get sued. (Although they still are fighting against paying minimum wage or workers comp for their drivers.)

The six-week limit on abortion in SB 8 claims to be based on the earliest moment when “cardiac activity” can be detected on ultrasound. Although referred to as a “fetal heartbeat,” this not a heartbeat, as there is no heart in the embryo, which is not medically considered a fetus until 8 weeks. Rather it is electrical activity in a group of cells in the embryo that are a precursor to the pacemaker function of a yet to be developed heart.

The law specifically names “women” who are pregnant, though no one thinks that other genders wouldn’t be affected. Most people don’t even suspect they are pregnant until their first missed period, generally 4 weeks or so after the previous one. That leaves two weeks to detect and end a pregnancy Most pregnancy tests are not considered accurate until after the first missed period, although some can be taken sooner.

The supreme kkkourt majority appeared to support the legal argument that the clinics couldn’t sue to block the state from enforcing the law, because the state isn’t doing the enforcement, enforcement is by private individuals who have not been named. The decision leave the door open for challenges to enforcement of the law on a case by case basis as it is applied in the future.  But without an injunction, those providing or assisting abortions after 6 weeks in any way risked being sued.  At the end of August both Whole Women’s Health and Planned Parenthood, the largest women’s health clinics/abortion providers stopped scheduling abortions that would occur after six weeks of pregnancy. Abortion is now effectively banned in Texas, and even if the law is eventually overturned, it is likely that most abortion providers will be permanently out of business.

This law will primarily affect young, poor and working class women, without the resources to independently travel to states such as California, where abortion remains, at the moment, a right.

Not the Church, Not the State, Women will Decide Our Fate

Prior to the Roe v Wade decision on January 22, 1973, millions of people across the u.s. fought for abortion rights including people in women’s liberation/gay liberation movements. In addition to protests, guerrilla theater, and direct action disruption, self-help groups such as the Jane Network in Chicago also started performing abortions. Women’s groups and clinics trained on vacuum aspiration, a relatively new, safer technique for removing the uterine lining, which was (and still is) used for first trimester abortions. Even I attended a presentation in Ohio on how to do vacuum aspiration abortions in 1971. The Boston Women’s Health Collective wrote the first edition of Women and Their Bodies in 1970, which was republished in 1971 by the New England Free Press, as the first edition of Our Bodies Our Selves.

Although mainstream women’s orgs such as NOW often limited their demands to legalizing abortion, most women’s liberation groups demanded not only “Free Abortion on Demand” but a reproductive rights program including stopping forced sterilization, and the rights of lesbians and gay men to access reproductive services and parental rights.

The gay liberation movement emerged at the same time as women’s liberation. Yes, lesbians were present at Stonewall and at all queer liberation moments before or since. Martha Shelley explained gay liberation as “We are women and men who, from the time of our earliest memories, have been in revolt against the sex-role structure and nuclear family structure.” The alliance between the LGBT movements and the movement for abortion rights remained strong through the 1980s and 1990s, for example in the Bay Area, including the Bay Area Coalition Against Operation Rescue, BAYCOR. (Operation Rescue was a catholic and Christian based direct action movement that picketed abortion clinics, physically and verbally accosted people working in the clinics or seeking abortions, and was alleged to be linked to the bombings of abortion clinics and murders of abortion providers). Tory broke her wrist doing clinic defense at an Oakland clinic.

photo of abortion rights rally

But while the original unity of gay liberation was that the state has no right to determine who and how we will love, and the gay liberation fronts were named after the National Liberation Front in Vietnam, over time assimilated gay men and lesbians determined it was safe to come out of the closets, if not into the streets. The newer mainstream gay movement turned away from demands for sexual freedom and control of our bodies, even trying over the years to tamp down the overt sexuality on display at annual stonewall commemorations or pride parades. This turn towards assimilation, joining the military and corporations, and elevating gay marriage as a key demand also included a turn away from radical feminism which included a critique of gender roles and the family.

The apparent court victory of Roe v Wade appeared to have established a national right to abortion, although as early as 1976 the hyde amendment banned Medicaid funding of abortions. By 1979 the right-wing had settled on abortion as their wedge issue, even more strongly than their opposition to gay rights. The grassroots abortion movement responded with clinic defense, but mainstream groups eventually discouraged activities outside of clinics, and turned to lobbying, lawsuits and pursuing “FACE” ordinances to prohibit demonstrations outside of clinics.

California has a strong legal framework for protecting abortion, including the 1972 amendment to the California constitution protecting the right to “privacy” which the courts have interpreted as protecting the right to abortion and reproductive services, including for young people, and for MediCal-paid abortions. People come here from other states and countries to get abortions, aided by groups such as ACCESS which has been defending reproductive rights since 1993.

In 2005, anti-abortionists held the first annual “west coast walk for life” in San Francisco which each year bus in thousands of fetus-worshipers from all over the country. At first they were met with large counter demonstrations, which eventually got smaller, and became guerilla theater, rallies, and one attempted blockade. 

In the rest of the world the trend is towards expanding abortion rights, with the notable exception of Poland and Nicaragua. Ireland had amended its constitution in 1983, following the visit of pope john paul II, to ban almost all abortions. In 2018 Irish people voted almost two to one to overturn the ban. In 2019 Oaxaca joined Mexico City as the second state to permit abortion, and on September 7, 2021, the Mexican supreme court ruled that abortion must be legal throughout the country. Argentina legalized abortion up to 14 weeks at the end of 2020. Cuba had legalized abortion in 1965, six years after the revolution, and expanded abortion access in 1979. Gayana had legalized abortion in 1995; Uruguay decriminalized it in 2012.

Voter Suppression – SB 1

The idea that there is widespread voter fraud or problems in Texas elections is dangerous, racist, and moreover, it is devoid of evidentiary support… the bill would appear to particularly impact voters of color. Limitations on voter assistance for people with limited English proficiency will have an outsized effect on communities of color. So will provisions that give great leeway to poll watchers to intimidate voters.” Brennan Center for Justice analysis of Texas SB 1, signed on September 7

photo of voting rights mural

Less than two weeks after SB 8 limiting abortions took effect, texas gov abbott signed SB 1, which will make It far more difficult for Black and Latinx people, working and poor people to vote. The outnumbered democratic legislators had fled the state in July to prevent a quorum, since despite widespread disapproval of the bill among people in the state, the republican legislature was determined to pass it.

The democratic legislators from texas went to Washington DC to lobby for the passage of the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Enhancement Act. The two bills would restore provisions of the voting rights act which were thrown out by the supreme court in Shelby County v. Holder in 2013. These bills have passed the house of representatives, but are unlikely to make it through the senate.  

texas’ SB 1 is specifically aimed at reducing the vote in Harris County. It outlaws accommodations such as drive-through voting, and makes mail-in ballots more difficult. texas joins georgia and at least 17 other states that have enacted 30 or more voter suppression laws since January 2021. A previous wave of voter suppression laws were passed between 2013 and 2018, which included voter ID laws.

Twenty-five states have enacted 54 laws to expand voting accessibility in recent years. In florida, two-thirds of the voters in 2018 passed Amendment 4, restoring the right to vote to people previously convicted of a felony. The legislature tried to weaken the amendment by requiring the formerly incarcerated people to repay any fines or fees prior to registering to vote. Federal judge Robert Hinkle ruled those requirements unconstitutional, and found that most of the formerly incarcerated people wouldn’t be able to pay the fines anyway, or even discover what they were. But the state appealed the decision and, after delaying for months and without giving a reason, the appeals court stayed Hinkle’s order. Advocates appealed to the supreme kkkourt who said that it was too close to the 2020 election at the time to allow people to vote. In the dissent also signed by Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Elena Kagan, Sotomayor said the “the Eleventh Circuit has created the very ‘confusion’ and voter chill” the court had tried to prevent in disallowing changes in voting laws immediately preceding an election.

Given the scope and impact of the texas laws, and the kkkourt’s decision to hear a case later this year that could potentially overturn Roe v Wade regarding mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks, it is surprising how little protest there has been. Some people demonstrated outside the kkkourt and some outside the texas legislature on September 1, but there has been little reaction here in the Bay Area, for example. The Women’s March is organizing a national mobilization to defend reproductive rights including abortion rights on October 2, but so far it is not directly addressing voter suppression which goes hand in hand with efforts to limit all rights, but maybe that will change.

An Injury to One Is an Injury to All! Free Abortion on Demand Without Apology! Voting Is a Right!

parade photo